H. K. G. Lowery – The Only Earth

H. K. G. Lowery
The Only Earth

Oceans, climbing
into clouds as land
loosens, realigns.
Chasms. Creeks. Craters.
Polar bears
and their offspring,
from dying ice.
on black water.
without their howl
in flamed forests.
like cocaine.
gripping skyscrapers.
in the madness.

Simon Brod – Emergency Cord

Simon Brod
Emergency Cord

Our train is about to crash.

Many passengers believe it won’t happen.
They sink back
into lattes, memes, dreams.

Some are expecting only minor disruption.
They sigh,
review agendas,
reschedule appointments.

A few are beginning to look at maps.
They struggle to understand scale,
but hope
to find a convenient siding to turn onto and wait
until danger has passed.

One or two have gone pale.
They lose their breath,
bite their nails,

Only a maniac would insist
the train must stop
and everyone continue on foot.

People would have to cross the tracks unaided.
Those with first-class tickets, join the rest and walk.
Our baggage is more than we can carry.
Our feet might get blisters. We might get rained on.

Yes, it seems things really have gone off the rails.

Mandira Pattnaik – Somewhere in Subliminal Spaces

Mandira Pattnaik
Somewhere in Subliminal Spaces

was Zoev. Strung like a taut wire. In the dirty unapologetic puddle, Sun got poached. Howls of people they addressed as Leftovers — separated from those that left for a permanent exile — rung in his ears. Skies above, as clear as mirror, held no promise of rain. Light reflected from everything except the blackened-out mounds of earth. Zoev stood on the causeway next to the sludge of toxic chemicals, to his right were weeds shrouded under soot.
      Things had precipitated fast. Way too fast. How many days ago was he in the cockpit of a fighter jet bombing the land below? A mere switch of the button had rained gamma rays; everything got decimated; wildly circling vultures were all that there was left to show for life. Lastly, the prized land—barren, a chemical dump—had meant nothing. Hours later, they had ordered an emergency evacuation to the edge of the planet. Beyond the boundaries of known homes.
      Suicidal shame it was—the waiting ships’ crew had body-scanned the passengers for microbes. Deaths and diseases on the journey were unaffordable—they had scanned people inside out. Passengers had buckled onto seats, five in a numbered chamber, packed from floor to ceiling with fuel and food.
      Amidst bursts of confetti, people had thrown wads of currency, rejoicing because they’d been allowed into the journey. As a final unshackling.
      Little did they know: money was ash. Money, dust.
      Zoev had scrambled to get onto the ship. Far too many here—everyone murmured under their breaths. People got squished; there was a stampede. The problem needs trouble shooting—someone had suggested. There was a shower of bullets; people had fallen like game animals—bloodied and maimed in a heap, but nobody could care less.
      Alas! Zoev was stopped at the final passage—a trace of the ordinary flu!
      Zoev decided to run along the causeway, turning back spitefully to see the glistening tip of ships leaving for another street, an away home, pointing to the skies, looming over the burnt out stumps of Cedars.
      He ran as fast as he could—dejected, hungry and thirsty. He thought he’d die of thirst. Finally, he sneaked into the humble roads of the town he once lived in. He stood outside his childhood home, taken over by a family of overgrown plants, black nightshade, pink water speedwell, water plantain and dwarf spurge, all dying, or just tethered to life.
      He looked around: Once the pride of the Mediterranean, now a ghostly town of half-eaten buildings, the crowns all smoked black. Yawning windows screamed—shrieks which none heard. They had bombed the town before it was too late. The ships wouldn’t have room for everybody.
      Zoev, a prisoner of the Sun and skies and whatever became of its clouded amalgamation, trudged through the ashen blocks, the smell of death was overpowering. His tongue hung loose.
      Evening descended. He watched the crepuscular skies sliced by white and black fumes rising from the destroyed precincts. Insignia of stupidity!
      Zoev thought of the calm turquoise planet it once was; and saw only tufts of amber dead grass. He remembered Jane, his wife. He thought of his mom. I’ll fall back on lives and afterlives; I’ll own you forever. His eyes welled up.
      Further down the street, he saw a Rottweiler at the bend—black and mahogany, its forehead arched. It was hungry; narrowed its eyes to measure the domain challenger. Zoev aimed his pocket knife like a spear at the animal. He stood like a Greek statue and threw. At lightning speed, the Rottweiler charged, an arrow off a bow. The spear had no chance. The dog struck the man to the ground and with its paws held him to the dust till his head threatened to burst. Zoev lay like dead. The animal paused and circled him.
      Tired Zoev wanted death; he did not beg for mercy. But the animal gave him pardon and crouched. The night they spent face to face. Nothing moved, only the ships leaving, one after another.
      When the sun emerged, all fire and fury, Zoev rose to his feet. He wasn’t sure if he was grateful to be alive. He ignored the Rottweiler but it followed as they paced together across the once-charmed cobbled walkways, down to the river, east of town.
      They saw traffic frozen in time; cars mangled; cycles twisted in a heap when the people tried to escape like mad.
      The river lay dead. Zoev walked over its broken bed, and reached its dried middle. He began to dig furiously—in its depths may lie the native element that could quench his thirst.
      The Rottweiler watched him surreptitiously, afraid of the fanatic man. From the core of its being rose a voice—ingenuity of man is matched only by his unwise actions! Zoev kept on digging deeper. No trace of water. Mounds of dry sand piled; blood oozed from his fingers.
      Now a dust storm rose, obscured the definitiveness of day or night. Winds came in from every side. Man and animal, unguarded, were like offerings to the elements. Zoev screamed —not a wise thing to do—sand entered his mouth, blinded his eyes. He was beginning to give up when the Rottweiler darted towards the stone banks, led, the man ran behind.
      They reached a dark cavern, the corners of which were lit by a feeble ethereal light. Zoev did not know where he was; he stood numb and drained. In that light, the Rottweiler marked out—clear water seeping by the rock sides, like a melting heart. The dog watched the man lick, like a return to the native element after the apocalypse.   AQ

Matthew Brennan – Old Trees in the Woods, Doomed to Re-zoning

Matthew Brennan
Old Trees in the Woods, Doomed to Re-zoning

They’ve been here longer than we’ll ever know,
grand guardians of all that’s still beneath
their sway. Their leafy dark green branches bunch

so closely that they interweave. From one,
a hawk takes off and skims their tallest crowns,
vaults into clouds that sometimes almost graze

the waving outstretched limbs. Oaks tower over
saplings in a nearby neighbourhood,
yet shade and shelter them from day to day.

The saplings will survive somehow, bereft
of the knowledge the oldest trees transmit. Their roots
reach out to teach the others how to thrive,

to grow in silence and slow time. And then
when dusk breaks in and darkness floods the woods,
sunlight reaching just the upper branches,

only these trees, so far outlasting all,
can hold onto the gleams they soon will lose.

Fin Keegan – How to Liberate Planet A

Fin Keegan
How to Liberate Planet A

Curious to think that
at a conservative estimate
there are several trillion planets
in the universe—and more

by the time you read this.
But reckon with this:
we are small—so small that
there is not much of a

difference between us
and the newt by the gate.
And he is no more going to
move to another planet

than we are going to find
the square root of minus one.
No new planets for us then,
for all that we can count them and

like to imagine ourselves upon them.
The metaverse of course
will seek to persuade you otherwise,
as will TV and, alas, books:

all ‘entrenchments’
as Nietzsche correctly saw.
Talk to your neighbour:
he is still there in spite of all.

That is where the liberation
of Planet A will begin.

Samarra Prahlad – Armageddon & Hope is an emerald ocean

Samarra Prahlad
Armageddon & Hope is an emerald ocean

Samarra Prahlad writes: ‘My subject matter is the natural world, which I like to represent in an abstract and intuitive way, using palette knives. I love vibrant acrylic colours, especially blues and reds, which I feel gives an added emotional dimension to the scenes I am trying to capture. I often travel within New South Wales with my parents. A lot of my work is inspired by the natural beauty of the places I get to see. Armageddon and Hope is an emerald ocean were made in response to natural disasters in Australia in 2022: wildfires and destructive floods. These paintings are a documentation of those trying times. Before Covid, I was part of Art Together, a popular artist collective. I will be going to university soon, and I plan to keep my art up as it is an integral part of who I am and how I express myself.’

Samarra Prahlad, Armageddon, acrylic on canvas, 2022


Samarra Prahlad, Hope is an Emerald Ocean, acrylic on canvas, 2022

Ali Rowland – Detritus

Ali Rowland

We pick at the layers of rubbish with our sticks
as the crows do at dead birds on the beach.
The feather, flesh, bone and blood
mimicked in used tissues, wipes,
COVID test strips, bottles, cans,
plastic of every shape and colour.
Things people touch intimately, then discard.

We would all rather be picking litter on the beach.
Instead, a littered-up lay-by: a place to eat,
drink, mess about, toss remnants into
the edges of fields which might
feed the interest of a future archaeologist –

Except that:

the birds are dying of
us, the sea is dying of
us, the land is dying of
us. Who will be there to want to
know how we used to live?

we get coffee in paper cups and
walk on the beach. In the still, hot air
the bins are full,
crowds have replaced the crows,
but nothing is still.

kerry rawlinson – Afterburn

kerry rawlinson

kerry rawlinson writes: ‘My creative leaning is expressionistic, exposing the battle lines of people vs place; the edges & intersects of nature/construct, culture/chaos, order/anarchy. I photograph with an old Canon DLSR, then dabble with various digital photography tools to develop and move each piece wherever it leads. I never use Photoshop or any other graphic design software, and often enhance my pieces with acrylics or inks.’

kerry rawlinson, Afterburn, photograph, 2022

AQ36 – No Planet B

Claudia Gary – Key Bridge, Tuesday Morning

Claudia Gary
Key Bridge, Tuesday Morning

I look down at the face of the Potomac
alive with sunlight. Then I bask a moment,
look up at rubber shoes and tires spinning

along the pavement of my span between
Rosslyn and Georgetown—students, workers, tourists
under the bluest sky, breathing fresh air

and feeling free. But here’s a dour face:
yesterday’s debutante, today’s chic matron
jogging across the river, eyes fixed forward,

thoughts inward, worrying about her waistline,
reliving last night’s table conversation,
reviewing her to-do and shopping lists,

planning a party and a hair appointment,
revising next year’s garden, anything
but what’s around. A harried driver looks up

and wishes she were outside glass and metal
like this trim woman in a running suit
who must be having a much better morning.